Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Some grammatical features of Inuktitut (pt. i)

There are certain grammatical features of Inuktitut that I’d like to describe here – namely, what are referred to as “ergative” markers (a case where the action on the object is “owned” by the actor). There are a few of these as far as I can estimate. Their conjugations may be organized thus:

first person, singular

[-jagit] – ‘I… you’                                 takujagit                      ‘I see you’

[-jara] – ‘I… it’                                     takujara                       ‘I see it’

first person, dual and plural

[-javuk] – ‘You and I… it’                     takujavuk                    ‘You and I see it’

[-javut] – ‘We (many)… it’                    takujavut                     ‘We see it’

second person, singular

[-jannga] – ‘You… me’                         takujannga                  ‘You see me’

[-jait] – ‘You… it’                                 takujait                         ‘You see it’

-just remember that you can insert any verb of perception root and other certain verb classes in front of these pronominal endings: tusaqtagit – ‘I hear you’; tukisijannga – ‘You understand (comprehend) me’, and so on.

second person, dual

[-jassinnga] – ‘You (two)… me’             tissigijassinnga           ‘You (two) laugh at me’

[-jaaksi] – ‘You (two)… it’                    nanijaaksi                    ‘You (two) find it’

second person, plural

[-jasi] – ‘You (many)… it’                     tarrijaqtasi                  ‘You (many) see a film (of it)’

This class of grammatical functions (ie, being pronouns + ergativity) seem to be denoted by [-ja-] – which, as you see from some examples above, interchange with [-ta-] after consonants. Elegant.

I shall write up some more articles like this on Inuktitut grammar in the future.


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